Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Sharyl Attkisson on Fox News describing White House harassment of journalists

You’ll remember that Sharyl Attkisson used to work at CBS News, and did the best investigative journalism on the Obama administration’s”Fast and Furious” gun smuggling to Mexican drug cartels, and then again on the CIA cover-up of the Obama administration’s foreign policy weakness in the Benghazi massacre. I always disliked her as a journalist when she was attacking the Bush administration so effectively, but I’ve sort of realized that she just thinks that it’s her job to attack and expose whoever is in power. But whereas the Bush administration never did anything to her, the Obama administration is different.

The Daily Caller reports.

Excerpt:

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson accused the White House of running an unprecedented pressure campaign against journalists, claiming they are pursuing a “particularly aggressive, well-organized” strategy “designed to have some kind of a chilling effect” on the American press.

Attkisson spoke with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz on Sunday about her early departure from CBS and her battles with the Obama administration for access to information. An investigative reporter who covered White House bugbears like Benghazi and Fast and Furious, she left CBS before her contract expired because she felt network executives inappropriately shot down her stories.

But in her conversation with Kurtz, Attkission made it clear that she ultimately blames the Obama administration itself for her bosses’ timidity.

“I think any journalist who has been covering Washington for a few years would agree… that there is pressure coming to bear on journalists for just doing their job in ways that have never come to bear before,” she began.

“There have always been tensions, there have always been calls from the White House — under any administration, I assume — when they don’t like a particular story,” she admitted. “But it is particularly aggressive under the Obama administration, and I think it’s a campaign that’s very well organized and designed to have sort of a chilling effect.”

“And to some degree,” she continued, “has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don’t really want to deal with the headache of it. Why put on the controversial stories that we are going to have to fight people on when we can fill the broadcast with other perfectly decent stories that don’t ruffle the same feathers?”

The reporter claimed she and her bosses both received direct pushback from the White House, including phone calls and emails pressuring them to change or retract stories.

Newsbusters has more:

Kurtz asked how Attkisson feels about the charge of liberal bias leading to soft coverage of Obama. “The press in general seems to be very shy about challenging this administration, as if it’s making some sort of political statement, rather than just doing our job as watchdogs,” Attkisson said.

ATTKISSON: I didn’t run into that same kind of sentiment [at CBS] as I did in the Obama administration when I covered the Bush administration very aggressively, on its secrecy and lack of Freedom of Information responses, and its poor management of the Food and Drug Administration and the national laboratories, the Halliburton-Iraq questions of fraud. I mean, there was one thing after another. The bait-and-switch of TARP, the bank bailout program. All of those stories under Bush were met with a good reception. There were different managers as well, but no one accused me of being a mouthpiece for the liberals at that time.

I’m surprised that the communist Democrat Party would suppress freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press. Communists have never done that before in history, have they? They never put in place disastrous plans and then had to cover it all up by suppressing journalists. And they certainly never did it in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Vietnam, and everywhere else communism’s been tried. Whenever government government gets really, really big, we should expect individual liberties to increase. Right?

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Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore testifies to Congress about global warming

Investors Business Daily has a story to go with the 5-minute testimony.

Excerpt:

A Greenpeace co-founder testified in Congress on Tuesday about global warming. What he said is hardly what anyone would expect.

Patrick Moore came off as a raving denier.

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,” said Moore, who was testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight.

“If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

Moore is somewhat famous for leaving Greenpeace, a large environmentalist organization that grew from a small activist group he belonged to in 1971 while earning his doctorate in ecology. He quit in 1986 because it had become too political and strayed away from the science he believed was its institutional strength.

Moore didn’t hold back in his Senate appearance. He quickly zeroed in on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and strongly scolded it for claiming there is a “95-100% probability” that man “has been the dominant cause of” global warming. Those numbers, he said, have been invented.

He also characterized the IPCC’s reliance on computer models as futile; told senators that history “fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming”; and noted that “during the Greenhouse Ages,” a period that precedes our fossil-fuel burning civilization, “there was no ice on either pole and all the land was tropical and subtropical from pole to pole.”

Moore further crossed the line of accepted climate change discourse when he insisted “that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one” and reminded lawmakers “that we are not capable, with our limited knowledge, of predicting which way” temperatures “will go next.”

To with that testimony, here’s an article from Forbes magazine (Feb 2013) about the real scientific consensus on global warming.

Excerpt:

Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

I have been listening to Hugh Hewitt’s radio show a lot in the evenings to keep up with Russian troop movements near Ukraine, because I frankly think that the dictator Putin has been eyeing our defense cuts and licking his chops at our diplomatic weakness. When Putin hears our Secretary of State go out there and declare that a major threat to national security is global warming, that doesn’t exactly discourage him from aggression. 

It’s junk science. It conflicts with observations. It’s pushed by scientists to get more grant money. It’s pushed by socialists to get more control. Period.

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Marco Rubio’s speech exposing the horrors of socialism in Cuba and Venezuela

Here’s an article from the Miami Herald about a recent 15-minute speech by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Excerpt:

The U.S. senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression … They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

[...]For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

That’s what the speech was about.

Here are some of the details from the speech:

As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.

“This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez,” Rubio said. “And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government.”

Then came the next photograph, a picture of a young woman being driven off on a motorcycle.

“This is Genesis Carmona,” Rubio said. “They shot her in the head. She died last week.”

Rubio continued: “Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.”

Rubio also took issue with a recent survey, cited by Harkin, that indicated a thaw in American and Floridian perceptions of relations with Cuba.

“He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba,” Rubio said.

“But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up,” Rubio said. “And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?”

Rubio said that, just as the United States has sanctions against North Korea and Syria — allies of Cuba — it should keep pressuring the governments in Havana and Caracas.

And he disagreed with the notion that the embargo hurts the Cuban people. Instead, he said, it’s the totalitarian-socialist government that’s to blame for problems in Cuba — As well as in “oil-rich” Venezuela.

“We don’t have an embargo against Venezuela,” he said. “They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

Rubio repeated that last line elsewhere in his speech:

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day. What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They shut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government.

“Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.”

I am not a fan of Marco Rubio anymore as a candidate for VP or President, nor am I a fan of Paul Ryan. Both have made mistakes that rule them out as conservatives. However, this speech should be seen by all, especially by Americans who do not appreciate how different like is in countries that are further along the socialist road to serfdom. But we’re getting there.

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Anti-government protesters shot to death by pro-Yanukovych gunmen in Ukraine

From the leftist New York Times.

Excerpt:

Security forces fired on masses of antigovernment demonstrators in Kiev on Thursday in a drastic escalation of the three-month-old crisis that left dozens dead and Ukraine reeling from the most lethal day of violence since Soviet times.

The shootings followed a quickly shattered truce, with enraged protesters parading dozens of captured police officers through Kiev’s central square. Despite a frenzy of East-West diplomacy and negotiations, there was little sign that tensions were easing.

President Viktor F. Yanukovych lost at least a dozen political allies, including the mayor of the capital, who resigned from his governing Party of Regions to protest the bloodshed. Mr. Yanukovych conferred with three foreign ministers from the European Union who had come to press for a compromise solution, practically within sight of the main conflict zone in downtown Kiev.

The sights of bullet-riddled bodies slumped amid smoldering debris, some of them shot in the head, and screaming medics carrying the dead and wounded to emergency clinics, including one in a hotel lobby, shocked the country and the world. The opposition said that at least 70 and as many as 100 people had been killed, while municipal authorities put the day’s death toll at 39.

[...]Sviatoslav Khanenko, a lawmaker and a head of the medical service of the National Resistance Headquarters, said by telephone that about 70 people had been killed and more than 1,000 had been wounded. Some news reports said 100 people had been killed.

The death tolls could not be corroborated. But even at the lower casualty numbers reported by Kiev’s municipal health authorities, Thursday was the most lethal day in Ukraine since independence from the Soviet Union more than 22 years ago.

Negotiations are underway, but no deal has been reached:

The foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France met with Mr. Yanukovych for more than four hours on Thursday, and then announced that they would stay in Kiev overnight to continue their discussions. “Ahead of us is a night of heavy negotiations,” Marcin Wojciechowski, a spokesman for the Polish foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, wrote on Twitter.

After the initial round of meetings, the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, said at a news conference in Warsaw that there were some indications that Mr. Yanukovych would be willing to schedule earlier parliamentary and presidential elections, something he had previously resisted. The presidential elections are scheduled for March 2015.

The great fear now is that the pro-Russia government will declare a “state of emergency”, which would mean the deployment of the army and more killing of innocent protesters.

The protests were started by the pro-Russia President’s refusal to sign a free trade deal with the European Union. A free trade deal would displease his Russian masters, even it would help lift Ukraine out of poverty. 

As usual, conservative Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper is leading the way.

Excerpt:

Canada is expanding a travel ban on senior members of the Ukrainian government and imposing economic sanctions on President Viktor Yanukovych, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in an emailed statement Thursday.​

“Canada continues to be outraged by the ongoing violence in Ukraine,” Harper said in the statement.

“Our government has responded by introducing a travel ban on the regime’s senior leaders and announcing medical aid to assist the protesters in their time of need.”

Ukrainian citizens, Harper said, “must be allowed to exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest without being subjected to deadly force and appalling brutality.”

The government is expanding travel restrictions originally announced on Jan. 28 and imposing economic sanctions on the Yanukovych regime and its supporters, the news release said.

The travel ban means the officials sanctioned won’t be allowed into Canada.

“You are not welcome in Canada and we will continue to take strong action until the violence against the people of Ukraine has stopped and democracy has been restored,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said at a press conference to announce the sanctions.

[...]The economic sanctions are to “freeze any assets in Canada belonging to senior Ukrainian government officials,” according to a release from Harper’s office.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech asserting that global warming is as big a threat to the world as terrorism.

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Treasury Department threatens private companies for responding to Obamacare incentives

Investors Business Daily reports on how the Treasury Department is threatening private companies who lay off employees because of the costs imposed on them by Obamacare.

Excerpt:

In what may be considered an ObamaCare loyalty oath, the Treasury Department orders employers to attest that any employee layoffs are not due to its imposed costs under penalty of perjury.

The first rule of business is to stay in business, something which is accomplished by doing what government is incapable of doing — controlling costs and making a profit by giving customers a product or service they need or want.

ObamaCare is obviously a product neither business nor the individual wants, so coercion is necessary under penalty of law.

Enforced by the Internal Revenue Service, individuals must enroll in government-approved plans or be fined.

Individuals are not allowed, despite presidential promises, to keep the plans and doctors they like and can afford.

Instead, they must accept plans they don’t like and can’t afford, some getting subsidies extracted from other taxpayers or China. They must grin and bear their reduced health care choices and higher costs.

Even though ObamaCare’s employer mandate has once again been illegally and unconstitutionally extended by the president who would be king, business still faces ObamaCare’s punitive cost increases down the road and its own form of government coercion.

Layoffs are an unfortunate but sometimes necessary means for a business to control costs and stay in business.

On Monday, a Treasury Department unconcerned with the necessities of the free market said that businesses will need to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate and its costs.

Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

What happens when a government passes regulations that make it harder for employers to lay off workers if they are forced to? Well, companies stop hiring workers, and expand their operations elsewhere. That’s exactly what has happened in countries like France, where the government makes it nearly impossible to get rid of workers, even when circumstances warrant it. So the net effect of policies that reduce the freedom to hire/fire as needed is to raise unemployment.

Here’s the economist Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute to explain.

Excerpt:

Labor market regulations often take the form of employment protection rules that govern the hiring and firing of workers. These were originally introduced to enhance workers’ welfare; for instance, by reducing unfair dismissals. The same provisions that protect employees, however, translate into cost for employers, leading an employer to think twice (at least) before hiring a new employee.

Theoretical economic models have shown that, in general, the effect of such laws is to reduce job flows (broadly, the sum of jobs created and jobs destroyed). In my paper, I show that these reduced job flows could have negative effects on investments in education because they reduce the expected returns on a job search; and they lower the value of education as a signaling device.

Under rigid labor market regulations, employers have a stronger disincentive to create new jobs, so there are fewer available jobs on the market. As a result, one’s likelihood of earning a productive wage is reduced. Moreover, firings under a system of strong labor market regulations are less frequent than they would be otherwise, so even workers with jobs expect to face fewer opportunities to search for re-employment. As a result, they will have less use of education as a signaling device to secure their next job.

With flexible labor markets and higher job mobility, these conditions are reversed. Job flows are higher, leading to more vacancies per unemployed worker. This yields a higher expected return on a job search for educated workers since the likelihood of finding a job is higher. Further, workers are either fired or they quit more frequently (i.e., job destruction is higher), leading to a greater use (or need) of education as a signaling device.

Put simply, imagine a developing country with rigid labor markets leading to few vacancies. For a low-income worker, the cost of getting educated may outweigh the prospective benefits since the likelihood of finding a job in this scenario is fairly low. On the other hand, for the same worker, if the likelihood of finding a job goes up when labor market restrictions are removed, the incentive to invest in education may be higher since the returns to investing in this costly activity are higher. Countries such as France, Germany, and Italy, which consistently have strict labor regulations, would do well to heed these results (see figure). It is also true in general that developing countries have stricter labor regulations than the OECD economies.

All these regulations sound so good, but we have to think beyond stage one in order to see the real results of the happy-sounding speeches. These things are understood by economists, but we didn’t elect an economist.

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